When Brandon Mitchell was dabbling in making his own soaps at home in 2008, he was doing so because he liked the idea of only using natural ingredients for something that is for personal skin care.
“I like to be self-sufficient and make things that are good for you,” he explained.
These homemade soaps were initially for his own use and to share with close family and friends. Soon, people began to ask if he would sell the soap, and within a year, Mitchell launched Cellar Door Soap Company.
Two years later, the bustling business is now his everyday job.
“It’s nearly a year to the day that I quit my job and started doing Cellar Door full-time," he said. "I make the soaps myself and then sell them at (farmers) markets like Dearborn. My sister helps me in the market when she’s not in school and sometimes my girlfriend helps, too.”
He aspires to open his own brick and mortar storefront some day, but in the interim is growing the business between markets, expos and craft shows. “Most of my customers come from face-to-face sales,” he said.
The soaps are biodegradable and have no animal products in them. Mitchell says this is both a moral choice for him, and because there isn’t anything harsh to the skin. There are exfoliants and moisturizers in the soaps, along with mineral oil essence blends that are soothing and aromatic.
He blends up wonderful scents like sage and citrus, lavender patchouli, ginger fizz, green tea lemongrass and many more. There are seasonal bars like the current fall line that includes apple pumpkinhead, chai latte and spiked cider. They sound delicious enough to eat.
“Making soap is a lengthy process," Mitchell explained. "I make about 12 batches at a time in a given day and then they cool for 24 hours before I can cut them. Afterward, the soap cures for a full month before I can sell them."
He is in the midst of preparing holiday scents now.
An estimated 95 percent of the ingredients are sourced from Michigan, and they are crafted here by hand. There are a limited number of products in the soaps, the majority of which is an olive oil base.
Using a cold process to craft the soaps, Mitchell says, “it isn’t the way your grandmother might have made it years ago. She would have done a hot process, heating it over a hot stove. I prefer to use a cold process because I’m able to get a beautiful texture on the soaps and the swirl designs in the bars that you see when they’re cut."
This takes extra time and attention to accomplish, but Mitchell feels it is worth the patience.
Near to Mitchell’s heart is a special blend called Ova-Achiever. Proceeds from sales of this bar benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research fund. His girlfriend’s sister is an ovarian cancer survivor and this soap was made to celebrate her and help those who are seeking a cure.
You can find Cellar Door Soaps in the Dearborn Farmers and Artisans Market every Friday now through the end of October from 8 a.m.-1 p.m., in the Muirhead Plaza behind the . The soaps are also available online, www.etsy.com/shop/cellardoorsoapco, or by calling Cellar Door at 313-473-0143.